Less than two years ago, Shabazz Muhammad was right next to Nerlens Noel atop high school recruiting rankings. He was a productive scorer at UCLA, but the story in college was always about Shabazz eventually entering the NBA draft.

In one year as a Bruin, Muhammad was briefly embroiled in a controversy over a Gucci backpack, and as the draft neared, it came to light that his father had lied about his son's age. After Muhammad was drafted by the Utah Jazz and traded on draft night to the Minnesota Timberwolves, he was kicked out of the rookie transition program.

The 14th overall pick has hardly hit the court as a rookie, but in the T-Wolves' last three games Muhammad has played double-figure minutes (he had only played two games of 10 or more minutes prior to the current stretch.) Coach Rick Adelman may have ushered Muhammad to a breakthrough moment on Tuesday night, when his rookie played wingman to Kevin Love as Minnesota topped the Phoenix Suns, 110-101.

"We had a guy step up in Shabazz," Love said. "That was big."

The performance wasn't what you'd expect from a rookie, but it sure helped Love's tremendous 33-point, 13-rebound, 9-assist night.

Muhammad succeeded by doing what he did best in college: playing physically on the offensive glass and attacking every chance he got. The 6'6, 222-pound forward made up for Minnesota's lack of scoring without guard Kevin Martin, but also the physicality missing with center Nikola Pekovic sidelined.

Muhammad scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, and grabbed three offensive boards that led to Timberwolves scores in the final 12 minutes.